TCU quarterback Max Duggan declined to state his case on Tuesday for why he should win the Heisman Trophy.
Good thing he’s got me around.
With the trophy presentation just a few days away on Saturday, it’s time to measure how the star quarterback stacks up against the other three finalists, who are also quarterbacks.
The field includes USC quarterback Caleb Williams, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.
How Bennett got the nod over Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, I’ll never know, but hey! That’s one less legitimate competitor for Duggan to deal with.
We’ll take a look at the numbers and then dig deeper into the stories of their season. By the time we’re done, I’ll show why Duggan has a compelling case to be the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner.
Max Duggan, TCU: 65% completion percentage, 3,321 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, four interceptions. 404 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns. 12-1 record, appearance in the College Football Playoff and Big 12 championship game.
Caleb Williams, USC: 66% completion percentage, 4,075 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, four interceptions. 372 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns. 11-2 record, appearance in Pac-12 championship game.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State: 66% completion percentage, 3,340 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, six interceptions. 74 rushing yards. 11-1 record, appearance in College Football Playoff.
Stetson Bennett, Georgia: 69% completion percentage, 3,425 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, six interceptions. 184 rushing yards, seven touchdowns. 13-0 record, SEC champion, appearance in College Football Playoff.
What do the raw numbers tell us? Beside the fact that Bennett is merely here for being the quarterback of the best team, it points to Duggan, Williams and Stroud as a three-man battle for the Heisman.
The numbers give a clear edge to Williams, who was absolutely prolific under Lincoln Riley in their first season at USC. Williams is a viable contender, but getting into the story of each of their seasons will show why the race should be close.
Before digging into that, it’s important to note Duggan piled up his yards in basically one less game. He came in midway through the third quarter against Colorado and attempted just three passes as the Horned Frogs popped off a few big chunk plays on the ground to quickly pull away from the Buffaloes.
Duggan averaged 310 yards of offense and three touchdown per game. Hopefully voters took that into account. Now let’s focus on the season Duggan had and why it makes sense for him to be the winner.
A story unlike any other
While Williams and Stroud were two of the Heisman favorites in the preseason, Duggan wasn’t even the starter for TCU. Duggan’s insertion into the starting lineup changed the trajectory of TCU’s season.
The Trojans and Buckeyes were expected to reach their conference championships and contend for playoff spots. The Horned Frogs were considered a fringe bowl team at best and picked to finish seventh in their own league.
In terms of Heisman moments, Stroud’s lacking in that department. He was never fully able to take control of the race despite being the betting favorite at numerous points of the season. He was picked off twice by Michigan, threw for 76 yards against a bad Northwestern team and his overall numbers dropped significantly from last season.
Stroud had a more compelling case to win last season if we’re being honest.
Meanwhile Duggan was helping TCU win four straight games against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Against Oklahoma, Duggan became just the second player in the last 15 years and first since Lamar Jackson in 2016 with a touchdown pass and touchdown run of at least 60 yards in the first quarter of a game.
Even in defeat against Kansas State, the image of Duggan fighting through exhaustion to get TCU into overtime of the Big 12 championship game will be one of the lasting images of this season.
Duggan led his team to more wins and accumulated the same numbers. Duggan is a more deserving candidate than Stroud.
Since I don’t consider Bennett a serious contender, it comes down to Williams and that’s where the case becomes tough.
MVP vs. MOP
The case between Williams and Duggan comes down to how you view the Heisman. Is it college football’s most outstanding player or most valuable? If it’s MOP, the edge will go to Williams. Sorry, TCU fans. It has nothing to do with what Duggan’s lacking, it’s about Williams being a special, dynamic talent.
His numbers speak for themselves and he did help USC come close to a playoff berth. If he were eligible for the NFL draft, Williams would easily be the No. 1 overall pick.
But if it comes down to value, then the award should go to Duggan. Williams was one of at least 20 transfers Lincoln Riley brought in to turn around the Trojans. USC had the top-ranked transfer class in the country before the season as Williams, Jordan Addison, Travis Dye and many others flocked to L.A.
TCU’s transfer class was a respectable 13th, but even the most optimistic projections of TCU’s season didn’t have the Horned Frogs close to the playoff. Duggan will tell you that this season’s journey wasn’t just about him, and he’s right, but he played a major part in it.
From leading the Horned Frogs on game-winning drives to creating explosive plays for his teammates, Duggan elevated the ceiling of TCU to a different stratosphere while USC did what it was supposed to.
The Heisman is given to the player “whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity” and who “epitomize(s) great ability combined with diligence, performance, and hard work.”
That sounds a lot like Duggan, right?
In the end it may not matter. Who knows when voters turned their ballots in. Many declared the race over after Williams’ sensational four-touchdown performance against Notre Dame instead of waiting for the conference championship games to be completed.
It’s cool. Whether or not he’s voted the winner of the trophy, Duggan is already a victor for simply being in this position after taking TCU to the CFP.
Knowing him, he wants a win over Michigan over an individual award. If that’s not a Heisman winner, then who is?